The title of this post comes from a longer quote by Mark Twain, written in the NEW YORK JOURNAL, on June 2, 1897. Even though it is a misquotation, according to the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, the story behind the quote is somewhat amusing and it also encourages me not to jump to negative conclusions. Mark Twain states something to the effect, “The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated” to correct the mistaken report that he was deathly ill. It was his cousin James Ross Clemens who was seriously ill in London, not Samuel Langhorne Clemens (Mark Twain). [I wish I could use the same “misquotation” for the RED SOX.]
Mark Twain’s “misquotation” may be easily used to describe my experience with my computer. Well-meaning friends advised me that my computer was old and I needed to buy a new one. This advice was not what I wanted to hear because I didn’t have the money to buy a new computer. Also, even though I have a love-hate relationship with my computer, I am used to how my old computer works and did not like the idea of having to learn how to use a new one. Despite the advice of my friends, I called another friend who is a “computer guy” and asked him if he would look at my computer and see if it could be fixed. It turned out that the “tower” had to be cleaned and it only needed some updating. I was very thankful to the Lord for answering my prayers, as well as the prayers of my friends, and also for my “computer guy” friend. I can almost hear my computer say, “The reports of my demise have been greatly exaggerated!” [My rubber chicken was happy to see me at my computer again.]
This same statement may also be used for my church. As a church body, we have gone through a horrific time of discord and turmoil. Many of my friends, whom I consider family, were leaving the church because of “irreconcilable differences” and disputes about theological viewpoints. This was excruciating painful to experience for me and for others. I did not know what was going to happen to my family in Christ who have been my church family for about forty years. I gave my life to Jesus at this same church at the age of eighteen. After forty years, it looked like my church family was disintegrating right before my eyes. I had the feeling of hopelessness because I forgot the most important truth.
College Church is not merely my church or anybody else’s. College Church is God’s church. God is the one who is able to help all of us to see our sin, to repent and to be restored, refreshed and renewed in the Holy Spirit.
God is the One who gives us His grace which empowers us to forgive one another and to obey His call to be His disciples and spread His Good News of forgiveness and grace to a needy world. After what seemed like an eternity, on June 14, 2015, God used godly men and women on a Pastoral Search Team and blessed us with a new Senior Pastor. We are all so thankful and filled with gratitude to God for all He has done for us. In our brokenness God has healed us and caused us to grow to be more like Christ. You might say, “The reports of My church’s demise have been greatly exaggerated!” I praise God for His faithfulness to us, His body of Christ in Northampton, Massachusetts. I pray that God will continue to equip and enable us to be His Voice, His Hands and Feet and His Heart to love each other, as well as a world in desperate need of the Love of God.
Realistically speaking, I know that my computer won’t last forever and I will eventually have to buy a new one. Nothing lasts forever. Even the television drama “FOREVER” was cancelled. But, I know what will last forever:
“…and on this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18b).
Before we as a church were ready for a new Senior Pastor, we had to seek forgiveness for our sin of pride and self-centeredness. We also had to forgive others as Christ has forgiven us. Asking for forgiveness from God and others we have hurt and forgiving those who have hurt us are most important in growing and moving forward. I am very grateful to God for using Jim Van Yperen and Metanoia Ministries to guide College Church through this process of forgiveness and restoration.
“If My people [the Church] who are called by My Name humble themselves, and pray and seek My Face and turn from their wicked [self-seeking] ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land [church]” (II Chronicles 7:14)
In His Grip and By His Grace,
[My next blog post will be sometime in July.]